Surge in end-of-life, estate planning following COVID-19 outbreak

OREGON, Wis. — With COVID-19 impacting more and more Americans lots of folks are working to set up wills, and end-of-life directives. Attorney Nelson Donovan of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners in Oregon and Madison tells News 3 Now that his company has never gotten so much outside interest.

“Usually it’s us working to bring awareness to the importance of doing this stuff,” Donovan said.

Donovan tells News 3 Now that roughly 60 percent of Americans do not have any end of life plan on paper and he wants people to use their free time during the pandemic to get something in place.

“If you don’t have a will or a power of attorney you’re putting yourself subject to the state law. There is a body of statues that basically says where your stuff goes when you die and if you have something other than the very generic child or spouse situation your things may not go to where you wish they would go,” Donovan said.

Donovan said these documents are important to have because they also detail what you want in the event that you are incapacitated.

“Let’s talk about the current situation where someone might be on a ventilator for weeks at a time. While you’re on a ventilator you can’t manage your affairs,” Donovan said.

Donovan said from start to finish creating a will can take anywhere from one to two months. Donovan said his firm is offering to sign documents in the parking lot with the safety of protective gear.

“A lot of our clients, when it comes to estate planning, are from that vulnerable population. They are older folks who could be susceptible to the coronavirus,” he explained.

Estate law documents must be notarized in person. Emergency guidance issued by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions allows remote notarization of certain documents effective now, but the emergency rule still does not authorize remote notarizations for estate planning documents.